Hearing loss may strike at any stage of life and can cause obstacles that lead to disengaging from one’s own life. During the early stages, it’s normal to feel anxiety at the prospect of adjusting to lifestyle changes and societal stigma. Educating oneself on what to expect is an important step in combating this overwhelm.
Diagnosing Hearing Loss
Loved ones will likely be aware of your hearing loss before you are. If a loved one mentions that you may have declining hearing health, it may be the first sign you should see an audiologist to have your hearing tested. To be sure, ask yourself some of the following questions:
Do you frequently ask people to repeat themselves?
Do you often think others are mumbling when they’re speaking?
Do you frequently turn up the volume on the TV, phone, radio, etc.?
Do you have difficulty hearing when talking on the phone?
Do you oversleep because you didn’t hear the alarm clock?
Do you have difficulty understanding what’s being said on TV, and resort to closed captioning?
Do you avoid loud gatherings such as restaurants and parties?
If you answered, “yes” to any of the questions, you may be experiencing hearing loss. This is great time to reach out to an audiologist to get a baseline of where you’re at. We’d recommend acting sooner rather than later. However, symptoms that may require urgent medical care are:
Pain, drainage or bleeding from an ear
Sudden or rapidly increasing hearing loss
Experiencing hearing loss in one ear only
What to Expect During Your Visit:
What can you expect? They may ask you questions about your hearing and medical history, exposure to loud noises or chemicals, as well as ask about any medications you may be taking. As infections and certain medications and chemicals can cause hearing loss, it’s important to be direct and honest with your audiologist so they can get to an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible.
Some of the tests they may perform include otoscopy (looking inside the ear), pure-tone testing (listen and response), tympanometry (middle-ear test) speech discrimination (word recognition), and speech-in-noise testing.
Depending on your hearing loss diagnosis, different recommendations may be made for how to improve your hearing health, and the quality of your life. Some options may include hearing aids, assistive-listening devices, or alert systems for the home.
Temporarily, if you have an iPhone and AirPods, you can use an accessibility feature called “Live Listen” to amplify sounds using the microphone on your device. For a detailed description of how to do this visit this article: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/20/how-to-turn-airpods-into-hearing-aids.html
In addition to these tests, and others, they can also get you a hearing aid tailored to your needs and custom-fitted. If you are concerned about loud noise exposure, you can have custom ear molds made for ear-plugs. An audiologist can solve issues you have with your hearing aid, and provide education about how to properly use it and how to adjust to this new facet of your life.
Coping with Hearing Loss
Beyond the physical obstacles presented by hearing-loss, it’s important to recognize it may be challenging psychologically as well. It is common to experience embarrassment, due to the stigma society places on differently-abled individuals. Despite leaps in collective consciousness, we have a long way to go before all members of society are treated equally. Advocating for yourself will be a necessary survival skill. See the links below for support on this matter. Sharing your experience with loved ones and forming a support system will help you cope.
Hearing loss can be a difficult thing to happen no matter what stage of life you’re in. Paying attention to the signs and symptoms for both yourself and loved ones, and remaining educated can help make all the difference in someone’s quality of life.
For more tips on how to prevent hearing loss please visit our previous post (Link Here) and follow us on Instagram or Facebook (@) to receive weekly hearing loss tips. At Integrity Hearing Services we are here to help you hear so you can participate fully in your lives and the lives of those you love. Thank you and as always stay safe!
Danette Jackson, AuD
Doctor of Audiology, Board Certified in Audiology